It’s staggering that a city supposedly renowned for everything that is good in life produces such harrowing music in abundance. Maestus’ sophomore album Deliquesce (code666), the full-length extension to their 2017 demo of the same name, is the latest slab of darkness to emerge from Portland, Oregon, and it paints a picture of bleak desolation. Continue reading
Despite what many people might believe, Black metal as a genre was always about experimentation, evolution and about finding an identity, even amongst peers. Right from its roots, Black Metal was an ever-changing force with its famous ‘second wave’ icons consciously taking vastly different directions and styles.
Since their inception in 2010, Dynfari have proven to be a true, unearthed gem for forward thinking metal; and yet another entity in Iceland’s thriving and rich Extreme Metal scene. Continuously showing evolutionary steps across their early albums, 2015’s Vegferð Tímans (Code666) was at the time their creative zenith, bridging atmospheric Black Metal with post-Rock and ambient landscapes to stunning effect. On latest album The Four Doors Of The Mind (Code666/Aural), this duo have majorly upped the ante both in musical execution and in subject matter. Continue reading
Stirring from a creeping lilt into a frictional sprawl, Symphonic Black Metal artisans Saille usher in their fourth album, Gnosis. Its predecessor, Eldritch (both Aural/code666) made great strides to establish this cerebral aggressor as an act of pedigree and violence; a burgeoning reputation that this darker, more ferocious offspring will serve only to further. Continue reading
Unleashing the beasts of the deep, Imperial Triumphant can only be described as chaos incarnate. Having spent the past 10 years lurking in the underground of the New York black metal scene, their sophomore full-length album Abyssal Gods rises through extreme label Code666.
Despite their recent venture out of being independent and onto signed album releases, a move only trialled with two EPs previously, there has been no compromise from older releases. This is still the ugly, hateful mass spitting repulsive murky riffs over packed drum lines in a hateful pulsating mass of sound. With no attempt to ease the listener into the album, opening track ‘From the Palaces of the Hive’ launches straight into double pounding drum lines and swirling guitars.
The key to their sound is contrast. Relentless tracks like ‘Opposing Holiness’ sits beside ‘Black Psychadelia’ that moves with a solid mid-paced groove. The album careers through 42 minutes of this insanity, still managing to constantly surprise as they break off into sections of brass or interlude with choir voices. The drums do fall into the trap of sounding over-produced at points on the album, perhaps a symptom of the double drum, but it’s easily forgiven when faced with the full gut-wrenching carnage that Abyssal Gods produces.
Such a dense, claustrophobic sound isn’t for the casual browser. While the album is not completely inaccessible, Imperial Triumphant have made an effort to make it as close as possible. Solid riffing and inhospitable noise struggle for dominance throughout making this an occasionally jolting and disjointed album but for the persistent listener, it has a lot to offer.
Romanian folk-infused black metallers Negură Bunget have more than upped their game with their latest release, TĂU (Code666/Prophecy), an album that marks the inaugural release of the bands ‘Transylvanian Trilogy’, a series of three albums that act as a sonic tribute to the band’s naturally visually striking home country. The first album in the trilogy deals with Romanian nature, and as a result feels earthy, but at the same time otherworldly and elemental.
Having won hearts and minds with 2006’s genre masterwork, Om (Code666), the very pinnacle of atmospheric indigenous black metal, Negură Bunget have remained relatively quiet with just one album in the nine intervening years that have been spent recovering from a damaging line-up change. Erstwhile band members Hupogrammos Disciple and Sol Faur moved on to pastures new and impressed with Dar de duh (Prophecy), the debut opus of new outfit Dordeduh, while Negru retained the band name and released Vîrstele Pămîntului (Code666) in 2010 to a mixed reception, raising as many questions over the longevity and remaining quality of the band as it answered.
The idea behind TĂU is ambitious and out of the band’s comfort zone and for those familiar with the Negură Bunget sound this is apparent from opener ‘Nametenie’. The chanting backing vocals provide ritualistic foundations, while the harsher black metal elements combine to give a very primeval feel. The intent of this album is a visual one, and TĂU’s cinematic ability to transport you visually to the Romanian landscape is unlike anything the band has done before. Each song on the album represents a different landscape, and album closer ‘Schimniceste’ is a black metal ambient master class. Its pensiveness and hypnotic rhythms aurally transport you to another world, one that you cannot see but can certainly feel.
Accompanying this release will be a 72-page art book edition, which in addition to featuring stunning photography will also include the history of the various featured landscapes. It is clear that immeasurable care and attention to detail has taken place throughout this project, and the band’s dedication to attentively bringing to life the natural world makes this a wholly unique record.
The band’s second long player was captured at Solitude Studios in Pennsylvania and Amy Mills Studios (Couch Slut, Epistasis) in New York, mixed and mastered by Colin Marston (Gorguts, Krallice, Nader Sadek, Atheist, Origin etc.) at Menegroth, The Thousand Caves in New York and boasts the apocalyptic cover craftings of Andrew Tremblay (Deadbots, Downlow’d, Deathface etc.). Focused on urban decay and the imminent extinction of mankind, IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT’s Abyssal Gods serves as the follow-up to the band’s critically applauded, 2013-released Goliath EP and contains ten punishingly traumatic odes of strategically composed black-addled mayhem bedecked in angular riff incursions, bestial vocal tirades and an overall air of disease, dread and looming disaster as well as a guest appearance by Bloody Panda’s Yoshiko Ohara and more.
Abyssal Gods Track Listing:
1. From Palaces of the Hive
2. Abyssal Gods
3. Dead Heaven
4. Celestial War Rape
5. Opposing Holiness
8. Vatican Lust
9. Black Psychedelia
Feb 20: The Ahceron – Brooklyn, NY w/ Mountain God, Hercyn
May 10: Saint Vitus Bar – Brooklyn, NY
May 11: Rockin Buffalo Saloon – Buffalo, NY
May 13: Quarters – Milwaukee, WI
May 14: 5th Quarter Lounge – Indianapolis, IN
May 15: Live Wire Lounge – Chicago, IL
May 17: Carabar – Columbus, OH
May 19: TBA – Knoxville, TN
May 20: The Earl – Atlanta, GA
May 21: The Brass Mug – Tampa, FL
May 24: Maryland Death Fest – Baltimore, MD
IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT Personnel:
Ilya Ezrin – Guitars/Vocals/Orchestration
Erik Malave – Bass
Kenny Grohowski – Drums
Alex Cohen – Drums
M. Gorelick – Guitar Solo
Yoshiko Ohara – Female Choir
R.K. Halvørson – Male Choir
Andy Ezrin – Piano
Valerie Kuehne – Cello
Amy Mills – Trumpet
To celebrate the release of their stunning 9/10 album Carrion Skies (Code666 – review here) The Watcher, guitarist and vocalist of England’s atmospheric post-Black Metal band Fen spoke to Ghost Cult on a range of subjects. In the last of our four part feature, with a further feature to follow in the next Ghost Cult digimag, he opened up about the lyrical concepts and themes prevalent on the new release, and the folly and failures of mankind…
There seems to have been a change in your lyrical themes and style. Would you say you’ve changed the emphasis and topics as you’ve gone on?
“We have. The last couple of albums Dustwalker and Epoch were quite personal, it was internal thoughts being expressed via metaphors of the external – the inner landscape being presented as an outer landscape. We really ploughed that furrow extensively on Dustwalker, in particular, and that led to a lot of the lyrical themes being quite spiritual and transient discussions. This album is going back to The Malediction Fields (all releases on Code666) and is a lot more of an external reflection on mankind, the follies of the human spirit, and how we engage in endless repeating cycles tending towards self-destruction, failure and misery.
“People have said how lyrically it speaks of ancient times, but we’re trying to draw that line, because we are here in 2014 and we exist in a really technocratic age and society but, really the same failings that have plagued humanity since the birth of civilisation still occur and continue to haunt us, and that’s where a lot of the thought processes have gone on this album.”
It’s worrying that in 2014 and we’re still witnessing people being executed due to beliefs, a high degree of exclusion and negativity towards diversity and in the UK, with the rise of UKIP, we’re seeing a worrying trend in terms of what is becoming popular in people’s politics.
“It’s worrying. I was talking to Gunnar (Sauermann) and he was saying there’s similar themes on the new Winterfylleth and was asking ‘Is there something going on in England? Is there a problem, and is it serving as an inspiration?’ The answer is, not consciously. We’re not a political band, I have no interest in discussing politics, and in fact I’m sick to the back teeth of this whole English Heritage Act concept that keeps getting thrown at us, but I suppose, subliminally, the entire discourse of society at the moment, and I don’t want to sound dramatic, but day by day there’s more negative news stories, and there’s the whole rise of UKIP…”
That’s a big part of what worries me, thousands of years down the line and a right wing party with an exclusive agenda can still be popular and on the rise…
“People don’t learn. Everyone that lives in the present day thinks we’re more civilized and advanced than in the past, and it’s not true. It’s a lie. Just because we’re more technologically progressed than we were 50 years ago, 500 years ago, 1000 years ago, well, human mentality and physiology doesn’t evolve that quickly. Every person is 3 good meals away from a riot, we haven’t advanced. It’s just a Western perspective, too, as there’s vast tracts of this planet that still live in medieval conditions.
“In the last 6 to 12 months there’s been some very unpleasant discourse that is becoming increasingly mobilized, and that is the first step to badness. I went to the Holocaust Exhibition the other day, now, a visit to that is always going to be sobering but looking at it through the prism of where our political discourse is going at the moment, it sent a chill down my spine. The holocaust isn’t some evil entity that happened in biblical times, or distant past – it was only 70 years ago. It’s within living memory, and it started with rabble-rousing discourse about “others”. That’s how it starts; a charismatic demagogue talking about “others”, gradually normalizing demonization through political discourse.
We’re also in a society that’s awash with Middle Class apathy…
“I don’t want to get too bogged down in this, because my band isn’t about this, but if you’re ruminating on human failure, you’re ruminating on human tendencies towards conflict, and violence and aggression, this is happening now. There’s a lot of misplaced anger, saying ‘look at the different, look at the others’ and it’s always about ‘blame the foreigners’, because that’s an easy one. But look at where the real problem is, and it’s in the paymasters of this country, they’re playing people like puppets.
“But what is quite interesting, though, is that a lot of the lyrics for the album were written over a year ago, and this wasn’t happening, and it’s since I’ve written them, now I’m even more heightened to what’s going on. The first two tracks, ‘Our Names Written In Embers’ [which comes in two parts – ST], it’s human beings are just this endless cycle of conflict, of war, and then the obligatory introspection and “we can’t let that happen again” and then ten years later the same thing happens again. It’s a propensity for, a lust for slaughter, yet nobody ever “wins”, nobody gets anything out of it, it doesn’t have to be that loads of normal human beings get killed or wounded and then that’s it.
“As a species it hasn’t stopped. We are so-called evolved in 2014 with our ipads and iphones and all that bollocks, and yet people are still being massacred on a daily basis. Is it ever going to stop? And that’s the over-arching theme for the album. You look at the title, you know, Carrion Skies, and that’s the future, that’s the future of man, it’s just a blood-drenched. carcass-strewn horizon. Throughout it, I don’t think nihilism is the right word, I think there’s a sense of furious despair.
“‘Menhir – Supplicant’ is about sacrifice, because you’ve also got this propensity towards sacrifice and subjugation. You talk about a middle class apathy to our political environment, and this is people just giving up and surrendering, surrendering their responsibility. Why are people so keen to throw away their responsibility and tether themselves to some abstract yoke? Why? Why sacrifice themselves towards ideals and values that only do harm? It beggars belief.
“The lyrics, they’re addressing those concepts. You do have to consider what’s going on around you because it’s all well and good to mull over these things on a higher-level abstract point of view, but when things are happening at a slightly lower level, more local point of view, you do look at it with a sharpened perspective. It’s happening now, it’s happening around us as we speak. Society is built on foundations of sand, the illusion of freedom, and easy comfort and distraction and that’s the only thing keeping people from marching into the streets and burning things.”
Fen on Facebook
Order Carrion Skies here
Words by STEVE TOVEY
To celebrate the release of their stunning 9/10 album Carrion Skies (Code666 – review here) The Watcher, guitarist and vocalist of England’s atmospheric post-Black Metal band Fen spoke to Ghost Cult on a range of subjects. In the third of four parts, with a further feature to follow in the next Ghost Cult digimag, talk turned to the role of the audience in the development of a band…
When it comes to writing music, and developments and changes in Fen’s sound, do you care what your fans think, or is writing music for Fen purely for the band members?
First and foremost you have to write music that satisfies yourself; that is an absolute underlying fundament of being in a band, but I do care, yes. I think a band takes on a life of its own after a point. We’re on our fourth album, we seem to have quite a few people out there who support us, and I think it’d be disingenuous to say that your audience, or the buyer, isn’t in mind when you’re putting together material. If people are willing to take the time and effort, and potentially money, to invest in your art, then there has to be an element of reciprocation there. We are conscious of the fact we have listeners; it’s not like we’re a global phenomenon but we are aware, and if we put out a record and our established fans didn’t like it, I’d be really interested to know why.
By not being a band that is overtly a touring artist, does that audience becomes more distant, and contact with the people that buy your product is reduced? It’s not like you are a 5fDP with 18 month tours…
“It isn’t, but that’s not to say we wouldn’t like it to be [on tour that long – not that they want to be Five Finger Death Punch – ST]. I enjoy doing this, I enjoy doing shows, we enjoy getting opportunities, and if you’re in a band and you have an audience, you look to grow that audience, and it’s important. I think there are bands that are disingenuous, and they say ‘We just write for ourselves, and it’s a bonus if people choose to listen to us’, but if you’re just doing it for yourself, then just play your music loudly in the rehearsal room.”
To Misquote Al Jourgensen, as soon as you play music to other people you’re selling out…
“I think it’s a dishonest thing to say ‘We just in it for ourselves’. When you pick up a guitar when you’re 13 or 14 years old, you just want to rock the fuck out. You want to be the man! No matter how many permutations your musical endeavours go down, or whatever prisms you view yourself through, as an artist the minute you’re going onto a stage and plugging into an amp that’s cranked up, there’s an element of that original instinct that kicks in, of wanting to just rock out in front of a crowd. I’m not going to lie about that just to make myself look a little bit cooler or more detached, or more intellectual.
“OK, we have signifiers and caveats to it – we’re playing “Atmospheric post-Black Metal…” Well, ultimately, we’re playing loud rock music. That’s an underlying fact. And a part of that is an audience. It’s an important part of being in a band. No one in a band can look me in the eye and tell me they enjoy playing in front of fuck all people. That’s not true. You can lie to yourself with your ‘There were only 2 people there, but those 2 people really loved it’.
“I remember in my old band, in Skaldic Curse, we started working on a 25 minute long progressive black metal epic, and we were ‘Oh, this is really going to piss people off’… Hang on a minute, where’s this thinking leading? Are we getting so wrapped up in trying to do what people don’t expect of us? But then you are still thinking about what the audience think, you’re just looking at it through a different end of the telescope. It’s an un-ignorable part of the artistic process, unless you are going to record music on your own at home and only listen to it alone. The minute anyone else enters the picture, even band mates, you’re sharing, and there’s consideration for the listener, and I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t see why that has to somehow compromise the purity of the art.”
I guess it’s always been something that’s intrinsic within the Black Metal / Kvlt Metal mentality or mindset…
“Yes, there’s always the isolationist thing, but if you look at the second wave of black metal, Euronymous still wanted to shift records. He ran a record label. He wanted to sell records from a shop. It was under the guise of spreading the message of the horned lord, or whatever, but he wanted an audience.”
And let’s not pretend De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (Deathlike Silence) is shit…
“It’s a brilliant record, and Euronymous wanted an audience for it. He’d do tours; Mayhem were touring around Eastern Europe in 1990, 1991, and they were one of the first second wave Black Metal bands out there doing it. And there are some real headbanging moments on De Mysteriis… take the riff on ‘Pagan Fears’, that’s a proper fists in the air riff. The mid-section of ‘Freezing Moon’… that’s a head-banging classic, and that’s why I don’t think considering your audience has to be a compromise at all. I think there’s some dishonesty in that level of thinking because you can be inspired, you can write with integrity and you can still consider your audience.
“If you’ve got to a point where your band has a fanbase, then your band has overtaken you. It’s no longer yours and yours alone. And I know John from Agalloch gets really upset with this, he gets upset with fans having a sense of entitlement, and that’s fair enough, but these people are buying and consuming your music, and it’s a sense that’s born from them enjoying your music. While that can be annoying, in a sense, you can listen to them and take some stuff on board. There is a line, but if they’re genuine fans, buying physical releases and merchandise, and they’re investing in your band and your music, then you owe it to them to take them into consideration.”
Order Carrion Skies here
Words by STEVE TOVEY